We determine the life of our products
Amazon's Approach to Circular Economy
Amazon is implementing two initiatives to reduce the annual disposal of millions of items due to returns and unsold inventory.
The first initiative involves checking returned items at Amazon and reselling them as used products. This practice is already in place in the UK and is set to be rolled out in the US and some European countries in the coming months.
The second initiative allows sellers with significant unsold inventory to use Amazon’s wholesale channel to sell their products in bulk. This initiative is currently being implemented in the US and certain European countries.
Once fully executed, these initiatives are expected to salvage around 300 million items annually. Libby Johnson McKee, Director of Amazon’s Returns / ReCommerce / Sustainability division, expresses hope that these efforts will contribute to building a circular economy and reducing the impact on the planet.
Creating a New Product Cycle through Upcycling
There are a massive number of products discarded due to defects, large amounts of defective inventory, and failure to become marketable. But have you ever witnessed this reality in your everyday life? In our society of mass production and consumption, we continue to generate invisible waste.
Looking towards the future, we must confront this waste.
In our consumption habits, we already practice downcycling by reusing things like old towels as rags, extending their lifespan. Ultimately, in the cycle of consumption, we can curb the consumption of new resources by continuously creating value through upcycling, a process where discarded items yield valuable creations.
In recent years, brands have emerged that sell products created through upcycling, utilizing items that are no longer in use. Globe Hope, an upcycling brand from Finland, upcycles discarded military products to create bags, apparel, and more. Positioned as a pioneer brand that considers sustainability from various aspects, such as ethics and transparency, Globe Hope is poised to change the way we consume.
Democratizing Traditional Crafts and Sustainability
On September 10th, the flagship store of Ryohin Keikaku (MUJI), “MUJI Shinjuku,” reopened. The store, which highlights its commitment to environmental and social issues, has partnered with Tsugutsugu Co., Ltd. to offer kintsugi repair services for broken dishes.
Kintsugi is a traditional Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with powdered gold, highlighting the cracks with decorative gold lines. This ancient technique has gained attention, even being mentioned in a speech by the United Nations Secretary-General, referring to “better than new.”
However, kintsugi remains a high-threshold method of upcycling for consumers. Repairing requires significant time, effort, and cost.
In my case, while I appreciate the philosophy and the beauty of the outcome, I often find myself resorting to the pragmatic conclusion that “buying a new one might be cheaper.”
Both MUJI, which has previously worked on projects like ReMUJI, a remake of second-hand indigo-dyed clothing, and Tsugutsugu, which aims to promote kintsugi through simplified kits, are working together to lower the barrier of traditional crafts and offer the option of kintsugi to those who have broken belongings.
This collaboration could provide a new perspective on the sustainability of both products and traditions.
The Cotton Tote Crisis: Is It Really Necessary?
In New York, shopping bags are booming. Cotton bags that can be used as shopping bags have become a message tool for brands, retailers, and supermarkets to convey environmentally friendly practices (or at least a means to indicate that companies are aware of their excessive use of plastic in packaging). When walking through the city, you can observe people carrying various logoed tote bags, from local groceries to their favorite steakhouses.
According to a 2018 survey by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, organic cotton tote bags require approximately 20,000 uses to offset the environmental impact in production and during use. In other words, it takes daily use of one bag for 55 years to finally pay off the environmental cost.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that using plastic bags is the best answer. The article mentions one of the issues being that companies are using customers’ shoulders as their advertising billboards.
“Not every product needs a bag.” Ultimately, sharing this fact between companies and us, the customers, is the simplest and most effective solution.
The Value of Wellbeing in the Purchasing Experience and Material Goods
In New Zealand, there is a store called “The Little Shop” that sells products created by artists and craftsmen. The founders and sellers are three artists: Colleen, Yvonne, and Heather. The store features their artworks, children’s clothing, glassware, and products made by local individuals.
In today’s world where online shopping has become the norm, spaces like this, where creators and buyers connect directly and buyers can understand the creators’ intentions, are truly precious. Additionally, the sense of contributing to the local community by supporting local products, even unintentionally, brings a pleasant experience and could influence the perception of the value of belongings.
Reflecting on my own habits, I often read reviews about “functionality” when making purchases and this has become routine. This approach can make each new function introduced seem attractive, driving a constant pursuit of upgrades.
Of course, excellent functionality is important. I’ve spent countless hours reading reviews for that reason. On the other hand, on weekends, I enjoy wandering around town, seeking delightful encounters. Having such options might be worthwhile. While writing this article, I find myself daydreaming about such weekend activities.